One of the first things Singo (our guide) asked us, after introductions all around, was "Do you have any favorite animals on which you would like to focus?" We told him that we would like to see the wildebeest migration, but other than that we would like to see as much variety as possible.
He exceeded our wildest expectations with photo ops of the wildebeest and zebra migration, elephants, lions, hippos, leopards, impalas, giraffes, hartebeests, Thompson's and Grant's gazelles, warthogs, elands, topis hyenas, golden and black sided jackals, Cape buffalos, black rhinos, dik diks, bat eared foxes, baboons, velvet monkeys, flamingos, eagles, cranes and other birds that would stretch this list longer than allowed.
You may notice that all of the animals and birds are listed in the plural. It wasn't only the variety but the numbers of animals we saw that provided almost a sensory overload ... we didn't complain. It is hard to say what our favorite animal encounter was, but it was probably with a herd of over sixty elephants that had come to the river to eat, drink and roll in the mud. After the party they munched their way up around the vehicle and treated us as though we were part of the landscape. One cow did peer over the back of the Range Rover, and looked Patti eyeball to eyeball as if to ask "what are you doing here?"
Singo, our guide and driver, was excellent. His knowledge and love of Tanzania; its history; its people and its fauna and flora is extensive. He is well read and articulate... fun to have a conversation with. After twenty some odd years in the field he has great stories to tell. He always had us in great positions for our photographic endeavors. We felt comfortable and safe in his care the entire time we were with him. He seemed to anticipate our next question or request. We talk of him often.
Our favorite lodge was a surprise, because it wasn't in the Serengeti and it wasn't in Ngorongoro Crater (although it was just outside the crater in Karatu.) The Bougainvillea Lodge had the best rooms, best food (by far), most responsive management, best attention to detail and last but not least, it was the most romantic. With experience as a director of sales for a multi-unit hotel chain at one point in my life I'll admit I'm a bit picky. The Ndutu Lodge was also high on our rankings. We didn't include the Arumeru River Lodge because we didn't eat there. We liked their accommodations very much though.
Sharon Lyon is the reason we went to Africa with ADS. From the beginning she was patient...answering all our questions without being condescending or curt and asked a lot of questions about us...our likes and dislikes. She didn't put us off with her opening questions as other operators had done. We felt that her knowledge of her company and product put her head and shoulders above other folks we had talked to over the past five years as we tried to put this trip together. Based on her knowledge of us, the choices she made for our itinerary and lodging couldn't have been better. The African staff was very professional ... helping with a smile. Singo was our bright and shinning star ... he made our trip one of the most memorable we have ever taken.
So many places, so little time. We rarely go back to the same place twice. Africa with ADS may be the exception.
Ken and Patti B.